Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld regularly represents clients in complex class action litigation in federal and state courts. Our lawyers have extensive experience with various procedures for coordinating, prosecuting and defending complex, multi-party proceedings such as Multi District Litigation (MDL) in the federal courts, coordination proceedings in state courts, and in representing clients in simultaneous civil, criminal and administrative proceedings.
We have served as defense counsel for clients in numerous complex class actions in federal and state courts. We have served as lead or co-lead plaintiffs’ class counsel in numerous class actions or other representative actions in federal and state court involving civil rights, disability rights, employment rights, due process, anti-trust and unfair trade practices and banking practices.
Antitrust and Consumer
- Stiner v. Brookdale Senior Living, Inc.: RBGG and co-counsel filed a federal class action lawsuit in July 2017 accusing Brookdale Senior Living, the largest provider of assisted living for senior citizens and persons with disabilities in the U.S., of financial abuse and widespread violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”) and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act. More than 5,000 residents live in Brookdale’s 89 California assisted living facilities. On January 25, 2019 the district court denied Brookdale’s motion to dismiss, finding the ADA applies to assisted living facilities. Stiner et al., v. Brookdale Senior Living, Inc. et al., 354 F.Supp.3d 1046 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 25, 2019). On June 5, 2019 the district court denied Brookdale’s motion for certification of interlocutory appeal and reiterated that assisted living facilities are covered by the ADA . Stiner et al., v. Brookdale Senior Living, Inc. et al., 383 F.Supp.3d 949 (N.D. Cal. June 5, 2019).
- Fentin v. Abbott Labs: The firm was plaintiffs’ co-counsel in this indirect purchaser class action in Los Angeles Superior Court regarding infant formula.
- Azizian v. Federated Department Stores: RBGG was co-counsel for the lead defendant, the cosmetics company Estee Lauder, in a state court antitrust action, which was settled as a nationwide federal class action. RBGG represented Estee Lauder both at trial and on the successful appeal. See Azizian v. Federated Dept. Stores, 499 F.3d 950 (9th Cir. 2007).
- Rebney v. Wells Fargo Bank: We successfully represented classes of banking customers in two appeals, the first of which found objectors to two settlements concerning bank checking account fees lacked standing to appeal and, largely in dicta, found no fault with the settlement, and the second of which upheld the award of attorneys’ fees after the settlement. See Rebney v. Wells Fargo Bank, 200 Cal. App. 3d 1117 (1990), and 232 Cal. App. 3d 1344 (1991).
- Centers for Elders Independence v. Biovale Corporation: The firm successfully represented purchasers and resellers of prescription drugs in a major price-fixing case against leading drug companies.
- Wahl v. State Farm Insurance Company: We successfully helped conclude a settlement of a case in San Francisco Superior Court on behalf of auto policyholders who were improperly charged for their policies, securing money for policyholders, a change in practices, and substantial attorneys’ fees.
- Quinby v. ULTA: We achieved final approval of a $3.65 million settlement in a class action on behalf of 263 current and former store managers of ULTA Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance, Inc. (“ULTA”) stores in California. We contended that ULTA misclassifies its store managers as exempt from overtime pay, even though they spend the majority of their time performing non-managerial tasks such as stocking shelves, working the cash register, and greeting customers. Judge Orrick of the Northern District of California granted final approval of the class action settlement in January 2017.
- Sunner v. Kenneth R. Turnage II General Contractor, Inc., d/b/a K2GC, Inc.: We obtained final approval of a settlement that included injunctive relief and payment of $297,000 in this class action in Alameda County Superior Court on behalf of 60 laborers for a Bay Area construction company and its owner. The alleged violations included requiring class members to perform hours of uncompensated work each week and forcing class members to drive their own vehicles to perform company business without mileage reimbursement. Judge Hernandez granted final approval of the settlement in February 2017.
- Ramirez v. Ghilotti Bros., Inc.: In this complex class action on behalf of laborers alleging wage and hour violations against a major construction company, we obtained final approval of a $950,000 settlement with injunctive relief for the class. We also defeated the claims of company supervisors who asserted they should share in the settlement, even though they had perpetrated the alleged wage and hour violations against class members. Before the settlement was reached, we obtained a conditional certification of Fair Labor Standards Act claims and a published decision striking all of the defendant’s affirmative defenses. See Ramirez v. Ghilotti Bros., Inc., 941 F. Supp. 2d 1197 (N.D. Cal. 2013).
- EEOC v. Pan American World Airways, Inc.: After we represented a class of Pan Am pilots on age discrimination claims in a two-month jury trial, we secured a $20 million dollar settlement, which was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit. See EEOC v. Pan Am. World Airways, Inc., 796 F.2d 314 (9th Cir. 1986), and 897 F.2d 1499 (9th Cir. 1990).
- Gober v. Ralphs Grocery Company: RBGG secured a unanimous affirmance of our clients’ entitlement to a substantial award for workplace harassment, including a punitive damages award. See Gober v. Ralphs Grocery Co., 137 Cal. App. 4th 204 (2006).
- Sergeants for a Fair Lieutenants’ Exam vs. City and County of San Francisco: The firm tried this challenge to the San Francisco Police Department’s promotional exam on behalf of approximately 100 police officers, securing relief for many of our clients as well as attorney’s fees.
- Stiner v. Brookdale Senior Living, Inc.: RBGG and co-counsel filed a federal class action lawsuit in July 2017 accusing Brookdale Senior Living, the largest provider of assisted living for senior citizens and persons with disabilities in the U.S., of financial abuse and widespread violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”). More than 5,000 residents live in Brookdale’s 89 California assisted living facilities. This is believed to be the first class action lawsuit against an assisted living provider to be brought under the ADA. On January 25, 2019 the district court denied Brookdale’s motion to dismiss, finding the ADA applies to assisted living facilities.
- National Federation of the Blind v. Greyhound Lines, Inc.: RBGG represented the National Federation of the Blind and blind individuals in a class action in the Northern District of California challenging Greyhound Lines’ failure to ensure that its website and mobile software applications are accessible to blind individuals who use screen-access technology to access content on websites and mobile applications. RBGG and co-counsel TRE Legal Practice successfully negotiated a settlement of this action wherein Greyhound committed to improve accessibility to blind persons of its website and mobile app.
- Cole v. County of Santa Clara, N.D. Cal. No. 3:16-cv-06594: RBGG represents five current and former prisoners in a class action on behalf of all prisoners with mobility disabilities to remedy long-standing inaccessibility issues throughout the Santa Clara County Jail system. The Court certified the class in February 2018, and RBGG and co-counsel Disability Rights Advocates negotiated an extensive and far-reaching consent decree that was approved by U. S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh on March 21, 2019. The County has agreed to extensive construction efforts to remedy physical barriers within the Jails and to make changes to policies and procedures to ensure prisoners with mobility disabilities have access to programs, assistive devices, and accessible housing, bathing, and dining facilities.
- National Federation of the Blind v. Uber Technologies, Inc.: RBGG represents the National Federation of the Blind and its California affiliate as well as several individuals in an action challenging denials of service and other discrimination that blind and low-vision riders with guide dogs face when attempting to use transportation arranged through the popular Uber mobile app. On December 6, 2016, the Court granted final approval to a comprehensive nationwide class settlement, which is subject to RBGG and co-counsel’s ongoing compliance monitoring.
- Blanks v. AMC Entertainment, Inc.: RBGG represents the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the California Council of the Blind, and five blind individuals in a class action challenging AMC’s failure to provide reliable and effective access to audio description services at its theaters nationwide. Audio description is a verbal description of key visual aspects of a film during pauses in dialogue provided through an audio track synchronized with playback of the movie. The parties reached a comprehensive settlement agreement in April 2017.
- Berkeley Center for Independent Living v. Oakland Coliseum: RBGG Managing Partner Michael Bien served as co-lead counsel representing the plaintiff class in a successful federal court ADA action for damages and injunctive relief against the Coliseum, its public entity owners, and all sports teams and entertainment companies operating there.
- Greener v. Shell: The firm represented plaintiffs in this national class action brought to ensure access for people with disabilities at gas stations.
- Armstrong v. Newsom: RBGG proved in federal court that California’s prison and parole systems violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by discriminating against prisoners and parolees with mobility, sight, hearing, learning, mental and kidney disabilities. We secured systemwide injunctive relief to end the discrimination, which was upheld on appeal. See Armstrong v. Wilson, 942 F. Supp. 1252 (N.D. Cal. 1996), aff’d 124 F.3d 1019 (9th Cir. 1997). We also established that the State is responsible for taking steps to ensure the rights of prisoners and parolees with disabilities are accommodated when it chooses to house them in third-party county jail facilities. See Armstrong v. Brown, 857 F. Supp. 2d 919 (N.D. Cal. 2012), aff’d 732 F.3d 955 (9th Cir. 2013), cert denied, 134 S. Ct. 2725 (2014); and 622 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir. 2010). The Armstrong litigation has resulted in a series of ground-breaking precedents, including rulings that the ADA does not permit state government agencies to avoid compliance by delegating responsibilities to local governments, and that prisoners cannot be held in solitary confinement solely on account of disability. We are currently working to stop staff misconduct targeting people with disabilities at CDCR. On September 8, 2020 and March 11, 2021 respectively, Judge Claudia Wilken granted in part our February 2020 and June 2020 motions to stop staff misconduct at six prisons in CDCR. The Court found that the systemic abuses against incarcerated people with disabilities at—R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility (San Diego, CA)), CSP – Los Angeles County (Lancaster, CA), CSP -Corcoran (Corcoran, CA), Kern Valley State Prison (Delano, CA), Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (Corcoran, CA), and California Institution for Women (Corona, CA) —violate the ADA and prior court orders. As a remedy, the Court required Defendants to develop plans to install security cameras and use body worn-cameras (BWCs) throughout the six prisons, reform the staff investigation and disciplinary process, and increase supervisory staffing on all yards at the six prisons. Currently, BWCs are in use at all six prisons; security cameras will be in place by the end of the year. The Court also appointed an expert to oversee implementation of the mandated reforms. Armstrong v. Newsom, 484 F.Supp.3d 808 (N.D. Cal. 2020); Armstrong v. Newsom, 2021 WL 933106 (N.D. Cal. 2021). We are in ongoing negotiations with CDCR administrators regarding system-wide reforms to the staff investigation and discipline system. Relatedly, on July 30, 2020, the Court entered a preliminary injunction to protect two people with disabilities from retaliation by prison guards. Officers attacked and threatened both people because they had previously reported to RBGG lawyers that officers had abused other incarcerated people incarcerated people with disabilities. The Court ordered that CDCR transfer these two witnesses from the prison where they had faced assault, threats and other retaliation . Armstrong v. Newsom, 475 F. Supp. 3d 1038 (N.D. Cal. 2020).
- Hecker v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: RBGG brought this disability discrimination class action on behalf of all California prisoners with serious mental illness. On March 2, 2015, the court approved a final settlement in the case, which includes several statewide policy changes to end discriminatory practices and gives the federal court the power to enforce implementation of the changes as necessary.
- Armstrong v. Davis: After a contested trial, RBGG secured a federal court order requiring the Board of Prison Terms to remedy its shocking failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act during parole hearings. The court issued the order after RBGG presented testimony from, among others, a prisoner who required the use of a wheelchair was forced to crawl upstairs to attend his hearing, a deaf prisoner who could not communicate with his sign language interpreter during his hearing because he was forced to remain shackled, and a blind inmate who was offered no help with understanding complicated written materials regarding his rights. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the injunction. See Armstrong v. Davis, 275 F.3d 849 (9th Cir. 2001).
- Coleman v. Brown/Plata v. Brown: In a landmark decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that overcrowding in California’s prisons resulted in cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Court affirmed a January 2010 order issued by a three-judge federal court after an extensive trial directing California officials to reduce the State’s severe prison overcrowding down to 137.5% of design capacity. The order was issued after the judges found that overcrowding is the primary cause of ongoing unconstitutional conditions in California’s prisons, such as the system’s inability to provide minimally adequate medical and mental health care for prisoners. Brown v. Plata, 131 S. Ct. 1910 (2011).
- Coleman v. Newsom: RBGG represents a class of the more than 38,000 men and women in California’s prison system with serious mental illness. After a contested trial, the district court held that the prison mental health delivery system violates the Eighth Amendment and ordered systemwide injunctive relief. See Coleman v. Wilson, 912 F. Supp. 1282 (E.D. Cal. 1995). The court determined that the constitutional violations remain ongoing in 2013 after the State attempted to terminate the injunction. See Coleman v. Brown, 938 F. Supp. 2d 955 (E.D. Cal. 2013). Through hard-fought litigation over the last two decades, RBGG has secured a number of significant systemic changes on behalf of the class, including reforms to policies and practices regarding the use of force against prisoners with mental illness, as well as the overuse and misuse of solitary confinement. See Coleman v. Brown, 28 F. Supp. 3d 1068 (E.D. Cal. 2014). On November 28, 2018, the Ninth Circuit issued two unanimous rulings affirming lower court decisions on behalf of the class. The Court dismissed the State’s appeal of an April 2017 order because the district court had not granted or modified an injunction under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(a)(1) in requiring the State to comply with prior orders to transfer class members to inpatient care in a timely fashion, nor had it issued a final order pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291 because contempt proceedings remained ongoing. See Coleman v. Brown, 743 Fed. Appx. 875 (9th Cir. 2018). The Court separately upheld a October 2017 order on the merits, ruling that district court complied with the Constitution and the Prison Litigation Reform Act in holding the State to its twenty-four hour timeframe to transfer patients in mental health crisis to licensed hospital settings, as longer waits “create ‘a substantial risk of serious harm’” in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Coleman v. Brown, 756 Fed. Appx. 677 (9th Cir. 2018) (quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 828 (1994)). These appellate victories ensure timely access to critically needed psychiatric inpatient hospitalization for the members of the Coleman class, and the State’s compliance with the inpatient transfer timelines has dramatically improved in the wake of the rulings. For more information see Coleman v. Brown: Court Orders, Reports, Photos, Expert Declarations and Media Coverage.
- Sabata v. Nebraska Department of Correctional Services: RBGG and our co-counsel the ACLU of Nebraska, the ACLU National Prison Project, Nebraska Appleseed, the National Association of the Deaf, and DLA Piper filed a class action lawsuit on August 15, 2017 against the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services and Nebraska Board of Parole, challenging the conditions of confinement in Nebraska’s severely overcrowded and understaffed prison system, including constitutionally inadequate medical, dental and mental health care, the overuse of isolation, and the failure to provide reasonable accommodations to prisoners with disabilities. Nebraska’s prison system is one of the most overcrowded in the US, operating at about 160% of its design capacity, with many prisons at even more dangerously high levels of overcrowding (with nearly twice as many people as they were designed to house). In June 2020 the Court denied class certification and the parties agreed to voluntarily dismiss the case without prejudice in November 2020. The voluntary dismissal came after NDCS made progress addressing some of the lawsuit’s concerns including by closing its solitary confinement unit at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, which expert testimony described as among the worst in the nation. NDCS also significantly reduced the number of people in solitary confinement overall, made significant changes to policies to improve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, improved access to American Sign Language interpreters, adopted new policies related to mental health levels of care, and made significant improvements to its dental care policies. (U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska, Case No. 4:17-cv-03107-RFR-MDN.)
- Babu v. County of Alameda, N.D. Cal No. 5:18-cv-07677-NC: RBGG represents eight prisoners in a class action case filed in December 2018 against Alameda County on behalf of all prisoners, including all prisoners with psychiatric disabilities, challenging the unconstitutional use of isolation, denial of constitutionally adequate mental health treatment, and unlawful segregation of prisoners with mental illness into units without access to programming and other basic services at the County’s Santa Rita and Glenn Dyer Jails. Since the filing of the lawsuit the County closed the Glenn Dyer Jail, located in downtown Oakland, in June of 2019 and the case continues regarding conditions at the Santa Rita Jail located in Dublin. In January 2019, the Court certified a class of all prisoners who are, or will be, incarcerated at the Santa Rita Jail as well as a subclass of all prisoners with psychiatric disabilities who are, or will be incarcerated at the Jail.
- Hernandez v. County of Monterey: We sued the County of Monterey and its private medical provider, California Forensic Medical Group, challenging dangerous and unconstitutional conditions in the County’s Jail, a system plagued by severe overcrowding, outdated facilities, and chronic understaffing. In 2014, we defeated the defendants’ motions to dismiss and obtained a unique ruling holding that our clients could assert ADA Title III claims against the Jail’s private medical provider. See Hernandez v. County of Monterey, 70 F.Supp.3d 963 (N.D. Cal. 2014). The federal court subsequently certified a class of the approximately 950 prisoners in the Jail, along with a sub-class of prisoners with disabilities. See Hernandez v. County of Monterey, 305 F.R.D. 132 (N.D. Cal. 2015). On April 14, 2015, the court granted a sweeping preliminary injunction on behalf of the class and sub-class, finding rampant violations of the Constitution and federal law. See Hernandez v. County of Monterey, 110 F. Supp. 3d 929 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 14, 2015). The court approved the parties’ settlement on August 18, 2015, which requires defendants to comply with the requirements of the preliminary injunction and to develop and implement a comprehensive set of plans to enhance services at the Jail. In November 2015, the Court approved a $4.8 million dollar award of fees and costs to counsel for the plaintiff class.
- Hedrick, et al. v. Grant, et. al: RBGG and the UC Davis Civil Rights Clinic represent a class of pre-trial detainees, convicted prisoners, and immigration detainees challenging conditions of confinement at California’s Yuba County Jail. In 2013, the federal district court denied Yuba’s attempt to terminate a long-standing consent decree requiring the County to maintain certain minimum standards for those incarcerated at the Jail, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed the decision in 2016. In the fall of 2016, RBGG filed an enforcement motion, seeking to require the County to improve its policies regarding safety cells, suicide screening, out of cell time, intake, and other critical issues, as well as a motion to add claims under the ADA. After extensive court-supervised settlement negotiations, the parties signed an amended Consent Decree in August 2018. The court approved the Amended Consent Decree and awarded attorneys’ fees to class counsel in early 2019. Since then, RBGG has been closely monitoring the County’s compliance with the Amended Consent Decree.
- Valdivia v. Davis: RBGG secured a permanent injunction against the State based on a federal court’s finding that delays in its parole revocation process violated due process protections. The State agreed to improve the timeliness of parole revocation proceedings, to provide probable cause hearings, and to appoint attorneys to represent all parolees facing revocation proceedings, among other fundamental due process protections. See Valdivia v. Davis, 206 F. Supp. 2d 1068 (2002). The injunction remained in place until 2013, when parole revocation proceedings were turned over to the county courts by statute.
- L.H. v. Schwarzenegger: RBGG secured the rights of all juvenile parolees in California to fair hearings when they are accused of violating the terms of their parole. As a result of our lawsuit, the State agreed to provide attorneys to all juvenile parolees accused of parole violations, as well notice of the charges and evidence against them, the right to confront their accusers in a hearing, assistance for those parolees with disabilities, and the right to be considered for community-based alternative sanctions instead of return to the juvenile prison system. See L.H. v. Schwarzenegger, 519 F. Supp. 2d 1072 (2007).
- Hecker v. Brown: RBGG has fought discrimination against the class of inmates in California’s prison system with serious mental illness, ensuring that they have equal access to programs and services during their incarceration and are not placed in higher-than-necessary security settings based solely on the fact that they have a disability.
- Gates v. Deukmejian: We secured a consent decree requiring California to improve medical and mental health care, treatment of HIV prisoners, and conditions of confinement for certain California prisoners. Over the course of four appeals (one unreported), we successfully defended the scope of the remedy, our entitlement to fees for litigation and monitoring, and an enforcement order prohibiting the use of certain riot-control guns on mentally ill prisoners confined to their cells. See Gates v. Deukmejian, 987 F.2d 1392 (9th Cir. 1993), Gates v. Rowland, 39 F.3d 1439 (9th Cir. 1994), and Gates v. Gomez, 60 F.3d 525 (9th Cir. 1995).
- Toussaint v. McCarthy: Over the thirty-year course of this case concerning the class of prisoners confined to segregation units in four California prisons, we secured preliminary and permanent injunctions to improve conditions as well as substantial fee awards. We also successfully defended various aspects of the injunctions, as well as the award for fees arising from the monitoring process, over the course of eight appeals (five unreported). See Toussaint v. McCarthy, 597 F. Supp. 1388 (N.D. Cal. 1984), aff’d 801 F.2d 1080 (9th Cir. 1986); see also 826 F.2d 901 (9th Cir. 1987), and 926 F.2d 800 (9th